Academic positions require a different level of detail in CVs to standard industry CVs. And with such a limited number of academic roles available, it’s highly important not to blow your chances with CV mistakes that could have easily been avoided.
To help you out, we’ve reviewed some of the most impressive academic CVs and compared them to low-quality versions, in order to identify the key mistakes applicants are making. With that said, here is how NOT to write an academic CV:
Don’t bother with research
As an academic professional, you should have exceptional research skills – so failing to research before you write your academic CV is a real faux-pas.
Before setting pen to paper, spend time researching and understanding the job requirements, the institution and what you might be able to offer them specifically. For example, does the institution favour teaching or research? There’s no use writing 5 pages about your research experience for a less research-intensive University.
All good-quality academic CV’s start with thorough research and genuine insight into the institution being applied to.
Use the same CV for every application
If you’re applying for multiple positions at different institutions, then it’s understandably tempting to write a generic CV and send it off to them all.
However, generic CVs are not going to impress any recruiters – let alone academic ones! They’ll immediately see that you’ve not tailored it to their specific job, because unless you’re incredibly lucky, it’s sure to lack relevancy from the get-go.
Even if you’re applying for the same position at multiple institutions, you should still tailor the CV to show that you’ve done your research about the place you’re applying to.
Neglect your use of language
Academic professionals are expected to demonstrate a high standard of written language, so if your CV displays poor standards and a lack of attention to detail, you’ll face immediate rejection. It’s not just your spelling that counts here – mixing tenses or consistently using the passive voice will weaken your credibility, even if your experience and qualifications are impressive.
Avoid the overuse of clichés too, particularly when their inclusion does not add any real value to a sentence. It’s far more important to use factual evidence and tangible examples to prove the impact you could make on an organization.
Fail to sell yourself
Some people struggle to boast about their own achievements and skills, which leaves them at a huge disadvantageous to the other applicants – after all, many will be more than happy to blow their own trumpet!
Your academic CV is your time to shine – if you don’t sell yourself, then you’re missing out on your one opportunity to win the role. If you back up your confidence with examples, facts and figures, you’ll be able to justify your self-confidence and have evidence to strengthen your claims.
Forget to ask for outside feedback
Even if you usually have a high attention to detail, it’s seriously easy to overlook mistakes when you’ve been staring at the same document for hours. Plus, do remember that spell checks made on the computer won’t always correctly identify errors.
Make sure you always get a second (and trusted) person to read over your CV to give you some feedback, as well as pick up on those hard-to-spot typos. A second set of eyes is much more likely to spot errors, as they are concentrating purely on proofreading and seeing the document for the first time.
Andrew Fennell is the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV.